Maintaining the Sanctity of Gay Marriage

In the past "Sunday Styles" section of The New York Times, Brooks Barnes wrote of gay fatigue over same-sex weddings. Barnes describes the cultural climate in which wedding guests, gay and straight, are exhausted by attending "big show(s)" where "stereotypes go on display in mixed company." Citing a "butch pantsuit" and "S-and-M paintings" at a wedding venue, the article never mentions its inconvenient premise: We've got a lot of history to make and catch up on. Surely, history drags you down in awkward, uncomfortable, and tiring ways. And history repeats itself.

Last month, I heard a story on SiriusXM OutQ's news report about the rising rate of lesbian and gay divorce in New York. A state law requires couples to be married for a specified period of time before filing for a divorce -- and the bell had rung.

Mr. Barnes' article in The New York Times and the supposed emergence of gay divorce require counter representation. The article does indeed describe "some" who are not fatigued but alert in defense of "same-sex marriage ... at a time when states like North Carolina are willing to ban it." But, of course, it is not the responsibility of the couple getting married to accommodate the internalized anxiety of a guest wondering, as Barnes suggests, "Why can't my father be more supportive of my relationship?"

Witnessing the union of two people -- as theories in performance studies suggest -- is much like witnessing "live" theater: The feelings and thoughts that come up for the audience in attendance are a result of the show but out of the actors' control. Spectators at sports games, Broadway, or even museums identify through and against such scenes. So, if you don't like the presentation, shift your interpretation. Or, better yet, don't buy a ticket, move on, change the channel.

While "gay-wedding fatigue" and citations of gay divorce are fodder for haters, I am not worried about a backlash to these accounts specifically; the reports are too few and far between. But I am concerned over the implications of an unequal playing field. It seems we hold lesbian and gay marriages to a higher standard than their straight counterparts.

My husband (as recognized in New York but recognized only as my domestic partner in California) and I will travel to two "opposite-sex" destination weddings in August. We are already exhausted by the thought of flights and time-zone differences, but we are excited for many reasons, including how, from the crowd, we will identify with the happy couple when the two stand up and vow.

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